The brutal gang rape and beating of a young woman student on Dec. 16 in Delhi, India, sparked massive demonstrations by women and their male supporters in major cities throughout that country. Her subsequent death on Dec. 29, from the severe injuries she sustained, resulted in further massive protests.
The unnamed victim — whom protesters dubbed Braveheart and Dimini (“lightning” in Hindi) — clung to life for almost two weeks after the torturous attack by six men on her and her male companion in a moving city bus. Now the perpetrators, including the driver and a youth, face murder charges and possible death sentences.
The cries for justice in India — led by angry women of many ages and backgrounds — include demands for stronger laws, enforcement of existing laws, greater punishment for crimes against women, and a general strengthening of the state apparatus to try to both curtail rape and uplift the status of women. Some women have taken direct action against accused or suspected rapists. Whatever the forms, this emerging, growing movement is a welcome development, one that deserves internationalist solidarity from progressive, working-class and oppressed women and men everywhere.
This solidarity includes denouncing the corporate-owned media in the capitalist countries, especially in the U.S and Britain, which spread a veneer of racist ideas about alleged social backwardness in India regarding women’s rights and the “subhuman” “savagery” of “those people.” We reject and denounce the corporate media’s vile racism and chauvinism.
These pro-neocolonialist, imperialist countries subjugated India for generations and today continue their economic exploitation by extracting huge profits from low-wage, super-oppressed workers there.
The capitalist-owned media’s focus on women’s oppression in India is hypocritical to the core and is meant to deflect attention from widespread rape and all forms of violence against women right here in the belly of U.S. imperialism.
Here are a few recent examples.
It wasn’t a major news story when the federal Violence Against Women Act expired on Jan. 1 after 18 years as law. The corporate media finally picked up on the fact that right-wing Republican House members blocked the renewal because they objected to amendments adding protections for immigrants, Indigenous women and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer women and men. The horrific statistics for Native-American women were outlined by writer Greg Kaufmann:
“[O]ne in three Native women will be raped in their lifetimes; two in five are victims of domestic violence; three out of five will be physically assaulted. Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be assaulted — and more than twice as likely to be stalked — than other women in the [U.S.]. On some reservations, the murder rate of Native women is ten times the national average. According to the Indian Law Resource Center, 88 percent of these crimes are committed by non-[Native Americans] … and U.S. attorneys are declining to prosecute 67 percent of sexual abuse matters referred to them.” (thenation.com, Dec. 12)
The nonrenewal of the VAWA finally made some headlines on Jan. 5, but was quickly forgotten by the media.
An increased epidemic of rape within the U.S. military was again confirmed on Dec. 21. There was no hue and cry from the media over the brutality enlisted women face from their male cohorts.
The Department of Defense admitted that one in three military women are sexually assaulted, compared to an estimated one in five in civilian life. In its most recent report, the Pentagon’s “Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office” said 3,192 sexual assaults were reported — out of an estimated 19,000, or roughly 52 per day — in fiscal year 2011. It estimated only about 14 percent of rapes were even reported. (sapr.mil)
The latest reported atrocity involves the brutal gang rape in August of a high school woman in Steubenville, Ohio, allegedly by members of the football team. A cover-up by city and school officials to save the reputation of male scholastic sports was exposed. Some 1,000 protesters came out in the small city on Jan. 5 after a shocking 12-minute video was posted on YouTube by Anonymous on Jan. 2 that depicted teenage boys laughing and joking about the woman’s rape on the night of the attack. The video is a sickening indictment of the rape culture prevalent in high schools and on college campuses throughout the U.S.
The continuing second-class status of women must be fought by outraged women and men in the United States, India and all around the capitalist-dominated globe. Only the eradication of private property and the building of a socialist society will eliminate rape and all vestiges of male supremacy and women’s oppression.